Kayak and Snorkel Among the Mangroves at La Parguera
If you are a water enthusiast, a trip to La Parguera area might be just what you are looking for during your visit to Puerto Rico. Located on the southwest coast of the island, La Parguera boasts about 30 tiny mangrove "islands, islets, keys, cays, cayos, or islotes" just 1 to 5 miles off the shore.
Once you get to those mangrove cays, you can swim, snorkel, and ride the currents in the crystal-clear, warm water. Getting there via kayak with Excursions Ecoboriken was a great experience, that was both fun and educational.
My mother loves to kayak, so we decided to check this out. There are a few companies that you can do mangrove kayak tours with, but we chose Excursions Ecoboriken just because it is a smaller, newer operation, and because Jose Orengo, the owner & tour guide, was quick with email responses. Once we booked it, we were excited for our trip.
We met Jose at 8am at the small boat ramp on Camino Puerto Viejo, just west of La Parguera. After paperwork, safety gear, and instructions, we set off. Jose likes to start early as the winds and waves pick up throughout the day.
Our morning paddle out was on almost flat seas. We passed through the marina area, where there are some houses along the waterway, and on some of the mangroves islands. Jose explained the problems and some conservation efforts underway for the area. We stopped (to rest and talk about the area and wildlife habitats) along the way in the shade of some of the mangrove islands. Then, we did the "open water" part of the trip — maybe about 30 minutes of open-ocean paddling.
Our first swim/snorkel spot was at Caracoles, and we had a great time seeing all the baby fish in the mangrove roots in the channels (sometimes called canals or los canales).
We then headed over to Mata la Gata, where we went ashore and checked out the island, swam in the ocean "pool", and used the restrooms. Next, we set off for Cayo Enrique. We spent time snorkeling among the mangroves, and did some body-rafting on the currents in the mangrove channels.
We then paddled back to where we started in La Parguera. Luckily our return trip was with the current, as the waves and winds had picked up a bit while we were out.
Throughout this whole trip we had encounters with lots of sea birds and sea creatures — large starfish, sea cucumbers, lots of fish, a lobster, and we even watched a local fisherman pull up an octopus. Keep an eye out for dolphins, manatees and turtles — we were hopeful, but didn’t see any on our trip.
We learned how these islands are formed, the benefits of the mangrove islands, and a plethora of other nature-related topics. Jose is really nice and personable, and we all had a great time. On average, this trip typically has about 2 hours of paddling, though we got in a little more paddle time.
Thoughts on our Tour
We are all experienced kayakers, so we set right out onto the water — but beginners get a quick kayaking lesson. The tour may change depending on weather, paddling skills of the participants, etc. So, beginners and youngsters will not go to as many islands as we went to, and they will spend more time swimming and snorkeling around the closer islands.
We were really amazed to see how clear the water was around these mangroves, and that the mangrove roots were teaming with baby tropical fish.
You should wear sun protection gear — sun glasses, hats, sun screen, etc. Bring plenty of drinking water and a snack. Wear hard-soled or water shoes since there is some (broken, dead) coral on the sea floor and some yucky-feeling turtle grass.
Jose uses sit-upon, ocean kayaks. They are lightweight and easy to paddle. He has a couple single kayaks, and lots of doubles. Jose has 2 sets of snorkel gear that you can use, but if you have your own gear, bring it.
We decided to do a tour with someone who knows the area — though you could just rent kayaks and paddle around the islands on your own. But a 4-hour tour is priced similarly to the price of renting, so why not have a guide? Of course you can also go out to these islands in a motorboat, but kayaking is a great workout, and a wonderful, peaceful outdoor experience.
The cost of the 4-hour kayaking tour is $40/person, and $20/kid for "little kids". Payment needs to be made in cash, at the end of the tour.
If you're happy, let them know it — Don't forget to tip your your bartender, tour guide or trip operator if you enjoyed yourself. Gratuities are appreciated and typically aren't included in the price they charge you.
Jose offers this tour daily, starting as early as possible — preferably before 10am.
Allow about 4 hours for this tour.
You can call Excursions Ecoboriken at 787-951-0683 for more information or to make a reservation.
You can visit the Excursions Ecoboriken web site for more information.
Jose also offers a 2-hour night tour to one of the bio bay lagoons in La Parguera Nature reserve. We didn’t do this with him, but I bet the trip would be amazing — kayaking at night under a star-filled sky.
Directions from La Parguera — Once you pass Villa Parguera Hotel, stay on the left side of the road (along the water) and continue until you see the boat ramp on Camino Puerto Viejo.
There is parking available near the boat ramp on Camino Puerto Viejo, though it is only about a 15-minute walk from town.
Some other operators that offer kayaking in La Parguera include
- Aleli Tours — offering kayak tours and/or hourly kayak rentals
phone 787-899-6086 or 787-390-6086
- Puerto Rico Kiteboarding Club — offering kayak tours, kite boarding, standup paddleboarding, water ski, wake boarding, banana boat rides
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.